Friday, 19 March 2021 12:09

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Eskom has announced that load shedding will be suspended from 12h00 on Friday, after some generating units were returned to power, and the long weekend ahead would give it opportunity to do maintenance while power demand is lower.

Generating units were restored at the Duvha, Medupi, Kendal, Kriel and Kusile power stations. Units are expected to return at Camden and Majuba power stations during the course of the day.

"Although we have also lost other units at Tutuka, Camden and Hendrina, we have managed to adequately replenish emergency generation reserves. Eskom will also be taking the opportunity over the long weekend, due to the lower demand, to conduct short-term maintenance and further replenish emergency reserves for the week ahead."

The power utility implored South Africans to use electricity sparingly, as the national grid remains under severe strain. Any breakdowns could lead to load shedding being reinstated at any given time.

Meanwhile Eskom chief executive Andre de Ruyter this week then warned South Africans yet again that while load shedding will eventually lessen, it will not disappear entirely.

Speaking at a 'state of the system' briefing, De Ruyter painted a rather sombre picture of the state of Eskom, with financial issues just one of many challenges plaguing the beleaguered SOE. Other notable battles include:

  • The state capture scandal: Eskom is right in the middle of the state capture inquiry, as millions of taxpayer rands have ended up in “below the table” transactions. It has now come to light that seemingly ignoring the opinion of a legal review conducted by law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr (CDH), the Eskom board authorised a further payment of R176 million to Trillian and R348 million to McKinsey;
  • A lack of foresight: It seems that while power generation plants have been slowly crumbling away, few initiatives have been implemented to ensure sustainable supply by means of upgrades or new (effective) power station developments. Eskom now faces the burden of power stations that are reaching the end of their lifespan, making them at best unreliable and unpredictable;
  • Defective new plants: What was meant to be the saving grace for the electricity supply in SA has now become yet another expensive lesson. The defects detected at both Medupi and Kusile require in the realm of R7 billion to correct;
  • Debt, debt and debt: Eskom, in keeping with the South African fiscus and other SOEs, is facing a tremendous amount of debt, with really no way to eliminate its debt bill. The electricity supplier’s debt has ballooned to a jaw-dropping R464 billion, and the interest on its debt alone equated to a jaw-dropping R39.1 billion in the previous financial year. Government stepped in, providing a bailout of R56 billion in 2020/21 and R31.7 billion for 2021/22, but South Africans continue to find themselves sitting in the dark.

Over the long weekend, Eskom will take the opportunity of anticipated lower demand for electricity to conduct short-term maintenance and further replenish emergency reserves to be ready for the work week next week.